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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Gifts on a Budget Part 3 - Stitched with Love

Yes, you read that right. All of our Christmas gifts wereIchased for less than $40! Shipping for two items were the most expensive, but still came in under $20. Don't think it's possible? We'll be spending the next five days looking at how we did it!

Part 3 - Stitched with Love

I'm kind of addicted to teaching myself needle crafts... I've been sewing and knitting for a few years know and love it. For Christmas, I added hand embroidery and cross stitch to my resume. Again, pictures will have to wait till after we exchange gifts, but I love that I can give gifts to our family that I made myself! And from a frugal point of view, these didn't cost me anything since all the materials came from my stash! 

Christmas Gifts on a Budget Part 2 - Handmade Crafts with Little Ones

Yes, you read that right. All of our Christmas gifts were purchased for less than $40! Shipping for two items were the most expensive, but still came in under $20. Don't think it's possible? We'll be spending the next five days looking at how we did it!

Part 2 - Handmade Crafts with the Little Ones

A major perk of having a new baby - grandparents love anything they can get their hands on that has to do with the baby!
Between promo codes for photo gifts from sites like Shutterfly or Snapfish (abundant this time of year) and sweet handprint and footprint crafts, you don't have to look far to find a personalized gift that grandparents will go nuts over!

(I'll share photos after Christmas, but we can't take the chance of snooping grandparents!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Gifts on a Budget Part 1 - Target bargain

Yes, you read that right. All of our Christmas gifts were purchased for less than $40! Shipping for two items were the most expensive, but still came in under $20. Don't think it's possible? We'll be spending the next five days looking at how we did it!

PART 1: Target Bargain

If you've spent any time shopping at Target, you know two things are true. First, that everything is always on sale in one form or another. Second, that there are dozens of sales each week that include the customer receiving a free gift card with the purchase. This year, I decided that any time I needed an item included in these free gift card offers, I'd save the gift card for a fun purchase. Even at $5 or $10 value, it adds up! Unfortunately, I had spent most of my gift cards on a previous purchase, but had enough left to buy a gift at Target that was originally priced at $69.99, on sale for $49.99 and only pay $10 out of pocket!

Next year, I'd like to be more intentional about saving up these gift cards and be able to get more gifts for even less!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Organized October Checklist!

A few days ago, I shared my ideas about using the month of October to get myself organized and start the holiday season with a clean slate.

Well, it's now October and I have this fabulous check list to work through the month. Feel free to print, share and work through the month with me!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Stay tuned for our Messy Beautiful Love winner!

Just a reminder that yesterday was the cut off for our Messy Beautiful Love giveaway and tomorrow the winner will be announced! Eek! So exciting!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Organized October!

I had quite the fantasy about being home full time and it was pretty parallel to June Cleaver.
My home would be spotless- decluttered and freshly scrubbed all the time. There would be an assortment of fresh baked goods being prepared. Laundry would always be caught up. A meal would be ready for my husband, no matter what shift he would be working.

Then real life hit. Newsflash: infants can be pretty time consuming. There are days I'm nothing more than a vending machine in a rocking chair. So after spending several weeks berating myself for failure to measure up to my own high standards, it was time for a plan! (Again, I love plans. A lot.) I'm currently fine tuning a cleaning routine and I hope to share that with you soon. But I believe the first step to keeping up with the day-to-day is a clean slate.

Enter: The Organized October Challenge.

If all goes as planned (HA!), by Halloween, I'll have tackled all the little things that are keeping the house from truly feeling like an oasis. My problem areas may not be the same as yours, but I encourage you to play along. We can organize our way through October together!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The messy, beautiful truth about marriage

It's no secret that marriage is downright HARD at times. A lifetime of, well, Lifetime movies has left us with huge expectations, but the reality is that we're all married to imperfect people. And like it or not, so are our spouses. But when it's done right, marriage is also incredibly BEAUTIFUL!

You may recall that I've had the incredible privilege to be a part of the launch team for Darlene Schacht's newest book, Messy Beautiful Love. As such, I've had the opportunity to read the book before it is released and I can promise you it is well worth the time to read it! It's so refreshing to find a marriage book that is goes into the messy places and gets brutally honest.

The book starts with an example of a completely broken, messy marriage and the transformation that followed. It goes on to explore what a beautiful marriage looks like and how we can work towards living out Christ's example of love.

A marriage is at its most beautiful when both partners are operating in their roles as demonstrated by Christ's relationship with the church. A husband is to lead and love his wife and a wife is to respect and submit to her husband. (Now, I know the "s" word brings up a lot of hot emotions, but you can read more about biblical submission in the book.) I personally love the example of Peter, the disciple who swore he would always be loyal to Jesus, only to deny even knowing him when things got hard. In the same way, I believe we go into marriage truly intending to be loyal to the end, but then things get hard. We don't take our vows lightly, but oftentimes, life take turns that we couldn't expect.

One particular passage stuck with me, especially for my mission here at Life of a Trooper Wife.
"The world is doing a great job of making your husband feel like a failure already; he doesn't need to hear it from you. What he does need to hear is that he is valued, loved, appreciated and respected for the man that he is."
This is exactly the heart of this page. Our law enforcement heroes face nothing but hate every single day and it only seems to be getting worse. Most of us can't imagine facing the world the way these folks do. Now do you really think they want to spend an entire shift being targeted, hated, spit on, cussed at only to come home and be nagged by their spouses?

Each chapter outlines a different aspect of biblical marriage and closes with a challenge. I'm the kind of girl who needs a plan always. So having these specific challenges is wonderful! It takes the book beyond ideas and helps you put it into action. I've been on a mission the last few weeks to eliminate nagging in my marriage and this book has been a huge tool in working toward my goal. Obviously, I'll never reach perfection and I can promise I'll always have negative days, just like anyone else. Because life is messy. But when I commit to reflecting godliness in my marriage, it's inevitable that we will both reap the benefits.

The principles in this book are so wonderfully backed by scripture and apply to you, regardless of your current status. If you're hoping to be married some day, a newlywed, have been married for 50 years or anywhere in between, you will be bless by this book. Take some time, read it, study it and apply it. You can order through Amazon or Barnes and Noble on September 16!

I hope that even one marriage can be refreshed by the truths in Messy Beautiful Love! I'm praying over each of you, that you'd find the encouragement that you need in these pages!

As a special treat, we're giving away a copy of Messy Beautiful Love to one of our lovely readers! If you're already a fan of Life of a Trooper Wife on Facebook, you've already earned one entry! For bonus entries, refer a friend! Just invite your friends to "like" us on Facebook and earn an additional entry for each one! Just send a Facebook message or email and tell us which friends you invited! Entries will be open until Saturday, September 20 and the winner will be announced first thing Monday morning, the 22nd!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**I was provided a copy of this book to promote, but was not compensated for my review.**

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Alice Springs" Chicken and Zucchini "fries"!

Some days, you have a hungry, clingy baby and have leftovers for dinner (for the 3rd day in a row). Some days though, baby cooperates and hubby is home to help keep him entertained and you can actually cook! It's a great feeling! So tonight, we ate like kings! (Or that's how it felt anyway, after so much leftovers.)

I've had this chicken recipe on my Pinterest for years, but only made it once before. I don't know why, because it's DELICIOUS! It does get customized a little bit in this family because we're not big on honey mustard and absolutely refuse mushrooms.
So simple...
Fry up some bacon. (YUM!).

Brown seasoned chicken breasts (I use Mrs. Dash Chicken Salt Free Seasoning Blend 2.4 oz">this seasoning. ) in the leftover bacon grease. (Why is this not done for all chicken ever??)

Whip up some honey mustard sauce. (See? I only made enough to spread, not for dipping like the original recipe says.)

Place your chicken in a pan, spread with honey mustard, top with bacon and shredded cheese. (I prefer to use disposable foil pans for cheesy dishes because who has time to scrape all that melty mess off later??)

Bake through and DEVOUR.

I picked up zucchini a few days ago because somehow we haven't had zucchini all summer and now summer's almost over! But I'm always on the lookout for new ways to cook it. So I read about a dozen different recipes online and fudged up my own version.

Cut the zucchini into strips.
Toss in flour to coat.
Beat an egg with some water to be nice and smooth.
Mix up bread crumbs, salt and your choice of seasonings. (I used a packet of ranch dressing mix.)
Dip the floured zucchini in the egg, then in the bread crumbs.
Place on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet.
Bake for 10-15 minutes at 425°.

Crispy, ranchy and perfect!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Just a girl with a book and a very special offer

As of today, my husband and I have been married for five years. Not an extraordinarily long time, but we were 19 and 20 when we got married, so we've done a lot of growing and changing together.

I can honestly say that we've had LOTS more happy days together than bad days. Even when life gets ugly, we tend to take on an "us against the world" mentality. Don't think that I'm naive though. Marriage in itself is HARD at times and a police marriage brings a unique set of challenges. When you deal with shift work, over time, missed holidays and special occasions and essentially live as a single parent, it's enough to push anyone to the edge. I hate to admit, but I've let myself get caught up in the negative far too often and my selfishness has caused more arguments that I could count.

"Love is a beautiful thing, but it's messy at times."
Have truer words ever been spoken?

I'm so excited to announce that I've been selected to be a part of the launch team for Darlene Schacht's new book, Messy Beautiful Love! As a Christian wife, it's refreshing to find a book that honestly approaches the messiness of marriage. If we let ourselves be real, we can't help but admit that life gets out of control sometimes and our marriages end up taking the hit.

As a part of the launch team, I've had the privilege to dive into this book before it's released and I'm here to tell you that it is more than worth your time to read it! Darlene's heart-breaking honestly is beautiful and if you take the book to heart, your marriage can be transformed. I haven't finished yet, but I'm loving the journey through it!

The book itself is more than enough, but wait, there's more! Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages will be released on September 16th (so close...eek!), but you can pre-order now! (Follow the link to order!) And anyone who pre-orders the book (paperback or digital copy) gets an incredible freebie package, worth more than $50! Purchasing one copy of the book gets you lots of great tools, but if you purchase five or more copies, you get extra bonuses!

All you have to do to claim your freebies is email with your receipt or confirmation number and how many books you ordered!

If you're thinking that this book is for someone else, someone who's actually in a messy spot right now, please reconsider. You may very well be in a good place today, but God prepares the heart for tomorrow!

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book to review and promote, but am not compensated for my review. This post does contain affiliate links and I may be compensated through those merchants for any purchases made.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Official Page Kick Off (and a special announcement!)

This blog has been around for a few months as I've been getting focused on my real mission behind my writing.

Today, though, I'm so excited to announce that we're officially kicking off! For anyone who's been around up until now, THANK YOU! (Yes, you may say, "I followed her way back when...") And for any newcomers, welcome! You're jumping in at such an exciting time.

First, I'd like to give a little overview of my goal here. I am a trooper wife and I know firsthand the unique struggles and rewards that the law enforcement life brings. My passion is to connect with other law enforcement spouses (although this information can easily relate to anyone!) and share ways to encourage our heroes.

Every day, these men and women are battling evil right here at home. It's no wonder the stress of the job often finds its way home. There's not much I can do to change the nature of my husband's shift, but I can change the nature of our home environment.

My goal is to make our home a haven; a place he can feel safe and relaxed. Each person's idea of a haven will look different, but I'm here to provide ideas to do the same for others in our blue family. By providing recipes (everyone finds comfort in food!), housekeeping tips (a clean, organized home invites relaxation), marriage talk (we could all use pointers there!) and financial advice (have you seen what law enforcement officers bring home?), we can work together to show our heroes our respect and love. The world seems to be getting more hateful by the minute...home needs to be getting more enjoyable at the same pace!

So stay tuned for lots of fun, tips, deals and giveaways! I can also be found and followed on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest so you don't have to miss anything!

As we start this new journey in a brand new month heading into beautiful autumn, we're going to start with a fabulous book deal and freebies! Come back tomorrow for the scoop!

Thank you for joining me on this adventure! ❤

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Pinteresting August - Follow Up

Once again, I seriously overestimated the time that I would have to work on these projects! Two month olds take a good chunk of your day! But it's the best use of a day!

I did make my own coffee creamer and granola bars. I did not get around to the lamp shade, the snack bags or the baked oatmeal.

First, let's talk coffee creamer. It was simple to make and I loved being able to adjust the flavor however I wanted. But it wasn't any cheaper than getting the store-bought version, especially if you have a coupon or hit a sale. The only advantage would be that you know what's in preservatives or other junk. Just cream, milk and your spices/flavorings. We don't drink enough creamer to justify making it! But if you want to get away from packaged foods, this is an easy step!

Next, the granola bars. I didn't make the original ones I'd pinned, but found a different recipe. SO GOOD!!
Hubby isn't totally sold on them...he says they're good, but missing something. So I'll be tweaking the recipe next time.

This one will for sure save you money! The oats cost less than a dollar, the flax seed is less than a dollar and the other ingredients are less than a few dollars also. I'd estimate this recipe costs between $3-$4 to make and you get 18 thick bars! You'd pay that for 5 or 6 small granola bars at the grocery store!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Foregoing sleep

I'm sure anyone who's spouse works shift work can relate...
The baby goes to bed around 9pm. The husband is schedules to be off at 11pm. So I try to take advantage of that little piece of time to see how much I can get done.
Sewing patterns organized.
Fabric sorted.
Knit baby gift worked on.
Shower taken.

Of course, just as I settle down with my book to wait for him, I get find out he's been extended. It happens more often than not. But I keep waiting up, thinking he'll be home any minute.

Next thing I know, it's 2am and I'm getting up from my little nap to spend some time with my man. After he eats and we catch up, he's goes to shower. This is just about the time that the baby is awake to eat.

Hmm... Look at that...3:26am. About five hours before I'm planning on leaving for church. I really should get some sleep. Or I could squeeze in a couple more online surveys... I'm so close to my next gift card.

Ah, a day in the life! Who can relate?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Pinteresting August...

My first week as a stay-at-home mama is complete! And, to be honest, I don't know where the time went! It's hard work trying to find your new routine, period, but with a little one, it's quite a challenge!

Tomorrow is Monday and a fresh start. We're trying a new nap routine with the little guy and a new cleaning routine for mama. (We'll get back to the cleaning routine later. Promise.)

As I was browsing Pinterest earlier (as we all do, at some point during the day), it dawned on me that now is my chance to try all the hundreds of pins I've been hoarding for years! Whether it makes my life easier, makes my hubby's belly happy or save us some money, I'm all for it.

So I started a new board just for the projects I want to try before the end of the month. This gives me 20 days and I pinned five ideas.

Two are kind of the same...baked oatmeal bites and breakfast bars. But I love my granola/oat bars and would love to find a way to make them myself.
Reusable snack bags...because I feel like buying the little zipper bags is a necessary evil. If I can make it unnecessary, I will be thrilled.
Recovering lampshades...because we have a really wonderful lamp made from an old wood stove, but the shade is horrifying.
Homemade coffee creamer...I don't use too much creamer, but we've been on an iced coffee kick in our house and you can't have iced coffee black. But again, I hate paying so much for the flavored stuff.

So stay's going to be a Pinteresting August in this trooper home!

Monday, July 28, 2014

She's back and ready to face the world head-on!

I didn't realize, but it's been almost three months since I've posted!
I'll fully admit that the first month I was absent was because I was 9 months pregnant and pretty cranky, more often than not. Nobody wants to read what I would have been writing! And the next two months have been spent wrapped up in sweet baby snuggles!

So let's catch up...
Our sweet guy, Levi, made his arrival on June 3rd, weighing in a 7lb 15oz and absolutely perfect! He's been eating and sleeping like a champ and I can't wait for his next trip to the doctor to see what he weighs now! He's getting pretty chunky these days!

Since then, I took my standard six weeks off of work (note: six weeks is nowhere near enough time to be with a new little one!) and came back last week. It wasn't much surprise, but I only made it through two days at work before we decided that I needed to be home with our guy. The paycheck wouldn't be worth much after gas and childcare and frankly, not worth nearly enough to be away from him every day. So I'm now a stay-at-home mama! It's absolutely precious to watch him discovering the whole world for the first time!

Now, if you're part of a law enforcement family, you know that making it on his salary alone is a challenge. It's the very definition of "leap of faith". But my being with our little guy is so important to both of us. Obviously, this is causing some stress and a whole lot of sacrifice, but we're stepping out in faith and trusting the God will see us through, one day at a time. Obviously, I'd love to find a way to supplement some income, while still being with Levi, but each opportunity has fallen through. Again...we're having faith that God will provide what we need every day.

So things are getting creative in this trooper family and I hope that our journey can inspire someone else!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fresh delivery from!!

Getting mail (that isn't bills) is always exciting.
Getting packages is even more exciting than evelopes.
And when the package is a new shipment of fabric, well, I don't think it gets more exciting than that!

First, let me explain why this particular shipment is so exciting.
Anyone in a law enforcement family knows that we've gotta get creative and stretch those paychecks further than most. So I've spent most of my pregnancy trying to come up with ways to cut costs on baby costs. Of course, one HUGE expense when it comes to babies is diapers. So I decided to use cloth diapers in an attempt to save money. My rough math is telling me that diapers for one child will cost about $800 EACH YEAR. If we are to have another baby before baby #1 is potty trained, we'd be DOUBLING THAT. (I'm no math or diapering expert, but that's the calculations I came up with...don't hold me to that!) As a state employee family, that's ridiculous.

But when I started looking into cloth diapers, I was shocked at the cost there also! At a rate of $15-$20 per diaper, I'd have to come up with about $400 upfront to buy my "stash". Obviously, this is still a more economical option and we'd be coming out ahead in less than a year, but we didn't have $400 to spend at once. So I came up with this crazy idea to make my own. I have a sewing machine and what I would call "moderate" hard could it be?

(Note: It's not hard at all!! Be looking for another post later with how I made my diapers)

I spent the next few months listening to most everyone I know tell me that I'd never actually make my own diapers and even if I did, I wouldn't actually use them. Well, that only sparked that competitive sickness that lives in my brain and forces me to win/be right ALL THE TIME. So now I had to do it, if only to prove everyone wrong.

So I did some research and found what I needed to make this happen and started sourcing out my materials. That's when I stumbled upon WOW. It's like the promised land of all things fabric and yard and craft supplies. And great prices!! I went nuts and placed one big order...flannel and PUL (waterproof fabric) for diapers, cotton for crib sheets and curtains and all the "extras" like elastic and snaps.

This is when my love affair with began. You can buy fabric by the 1/2 yard or full yard, but you always get 37" in each yard. It doesn't sound like that extra inch would be a lot, but it's an awesome gesture. Delivery times vary depending on how close you live to their warehouse (which is in Georgia). For me here in Virginia, it's usually 4 days. Can't beat that!

That first order was enough to get me started on my diapers, but since then, we found out that baby is a boy and settled on a nursery theme of woodland animals. So once I needed the next round of fabric, I veered away from the solid colors and ordered some fun patterns...which have just arrived!! There's nothing like coming home to that fabulous box!!



Look at the sweet little animal print!!

Back to the sewing board!!!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Two days only, save 60% at!

(This post contains affiliate links which means I will be compensated if you purchase after clicking these links.)

Just in time for Mother's Day, snatch up a beautiful apron for a gift (and maybe another for yourself!) and save 60% off your purchase with coupon code FLIRTY60.
This code is only good May 2nd and 3rd, so head over there now for the best deal!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

"The Words I Would Say" - for my sweet baby boy that I can't wait to meet!

Even before I was pregnant, I have been praying for this and any other children we may have. Since I've been pregnant, I've kept on praying and talking to my sweet boy. Some may think it sounds silly, but there's already so much I wish I could tell him!

The other day, on my way to work, a song came on that immediately sent me into tears (sweet song + pregnancy hormones = I cry for sometimes unexplainable reasons). This song is by Sidewalk Prophets and is called "The Words I Would Say". The chorus seemed to perfectly sum up what I'd been praying for my boy since before I even knew that he was on his way.

Be strong in the Lord and never give up hope.
You're gonna do great things, I already know.
God's got his hand on you so don't live life in fear.
Forgive and forget, but don't forget why you're here
Take your time and pray.
These are the words I would say.

I've prayed these words over my sweet boy more times than you can imagine since I first heard them. I've journaled them for him to read later on. It's so humbling to think about what God may do through our boy. I don't know what the next 10, 20 or 50 years will hold for us or for him, but God sees us and He has great plans for us, as idividuals and as a family!

Monday, April 28, 2014

15 Things to Expect When Married to a Police Officer

I came across this being shared on Facebook and thought it was sweet, but undeniably accurate!

15 things to expect when married to a police officer (by Molly McAdams):

1. Always having to sit a certain way at restaurants so he can see everything/everyone.
2. Always having to sit in the back row at a movie theatre -not to make out- but so he can see everyone.
3. If #1 or #2 are crowded, you will have to leave. Not because of the wait at the restaurant, or because someone might sit next to you at the theatre, but because crowds make him anxious beyond belief. Too much can go wrong.
4. When you're at the store, he will randomly shove you down an aisle and whisper, "Go that way" while he continues walking straight because he's just seen someone he arrested, and doesn't want them to see you.
5. If you eat fast food, you have to make sure not to go to certain ones for a few months because the last time you were there, the person at the window was someone he arrested.
6. Eventually someone delivering your pizza will have been arrested by your husband. (Thank God ours now views my husband like a role model, we're good.)
7. Because he is trained to drive a certain way if need be, he will drive like that in your personal car as well all the time, causing you to hold the "oh shit" bar the entire time while working on your imaginary braking skills.
8. When you hear velcro, you smile to yourself because you know your husband has made it home safe another day.
9. Not being able to buy him just any shirt you think will look good on him, because you have to buy him shirts that will cover his off-duty weapon.
10. Knowing where all the guns are in the house, if they're loaded or not, and getting scolded like a child if you're home alone and don't have one within reach.
11. Staring at your phone for the last 20 minutes of his shift, waiting for the phone call that says, "Gonna be late, have to transfer someone and do paperwork."
12. While at the beginning, hearing sirens used to make you hold your breath and pray until you heard from him again, you now just trust he'll come home, and whisper "Get some" to yourself with a smile when you hear sirens.
13. You can text/call him and not hear from him for hours because he's busy. But if he calls or texts you, you better answer or respond within seconds because he will lose his shit thinking something's happened to you, call you 10 times in a row, text you a dozen more, and will be on his way to your house to check on you … all within five minutes from the first text/call.
14. Hearing in detail the smell and look of a dead person no longer fazes you … it's normal conversation, just as guns, bullets, and differences in them are now a daily conversation.
15. Nothing shocks you anymore when it comes to illegal activity that he's seen at work. You just shake your head and say something along the lines of, "dumb ass" in regards to what happened, when during the first few months it was something along the lines of: "OH MY WORD!!! Are you serious?! What has happened to this world?! I can't believe that! Just -- WHAT!?"

So after all that, it also must be said that being a police officer's wife is the best thing in the world. Dinner conversations are never boring. He looks hot in his uniform. And you know he can protect you, and protects your city on a daily basis.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Blurb Mother's Day Deals and Contest!

Publish Your Mom for Mother's Day!
(This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.)

Right now at Blurb you can save 15% on all printed orders through April 30th!! Mother's Day is right around the corner and a wonderful way to surprise that special lady in your life is to make a one-of-a-kind beautifully bound cookbook from all of those tasty treats she made you as a kid. You get to forever preserve a delicious part of your past, and your mom gets billed as the artist she always wanted to be. But be sure to hurry because this deal only lasts until the end of the month... just in time for a Mother's Day delivery. Can't get any tastier than that.

Make a Book About Your Favorite Person and You Could Win $2,500 from Blurb
While you're at it, enter to win Blurb's My Favorite Person Contest. Make a book about why Mom is your favorite person and be entered for a chance to win and to show Mom just how much you appreciate all she's done! Even better...all My Favorite Person books are discounted 30% off.
Details: Entrants must create a Blurb book and submit by dates on the website based upon the category selected. Entrants may submit a book for each category. Books must be made with Blurb (not another print company) to be considered.
Valid: Contest entries must be submitted by April 28 and May 31, based upon respective categories. The 30% off discount is valid through May 31st.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Sale!

(This post contains affiliate links which means I will be compensated if you purchase after clicking these links.)

Looking for a great deal on ebooks, eCourses, printable packs and bonus products and memberships? Look no further!
Follow the links below to buy the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle! This is a collection of 78 fantastic eBooks, audio files & printables. All the best ebooks on everything important to us as wives and moms: homemaking, cooking, decorating, parenting, faith and more.

With this bundle, you'll also get 10 awesome bonuses!
Sample the web’s top stores and services for homemakers with FREE bonus products, memberships, and store credits from Dayspring greeting cards, Dizolve laundry detergent, Hope Ink art prints, Once A Month Meals and many more!

This bundle has a resource for nearly everything you need to conquer as a homemaker, all in one place and all at an incredible price! The eBooks alone are a $698 value and the bonuses are worth over $200! But from today through midnight on Monday, April 28, you can get this bundle for only $29.97! Or if you'd prefer the bonus Kindle editions, it's only $39.97!

Just remember, this bundle is only available for 6 days! So follow the links between 8am EST Wednesday, April 23 until midnight EST Monday, April 28.

How to Add & Sell a Pattern on Craftsy

How to Add & Sell a Pattern on Craftsy
(This post contains affiliate links which means I will be compensated if you purchase after clicking these links.)

In addition to wonderful online courses and craft supplies, Craftsy also has an independent online pattern store that lets anyone upload and sell downloadable e-patterns with no fee!

Do you have a pattern you'd like to add to Craftsy and start your pattern store? It’s so easy to get started!!

1. Make sure you have a Paypal account. All pattern transactions happen through Paypal, and Craftsy requires that you have a Student, Premier, or Business account in order to sell patterns.
2. Put your pattern in .pdf format. You can’t upload any patterns to the online pattern store unless they’re a .pdf file format, so if they’re currently saved as a Word doc, .jpg, or other file format, you must convert it to a .pdf before you upload it to Craftsy.
3. Include a photo. All patterns must have at least one photo to accompany them, but you can add up to five photos. Colorful, interesting photos tend to work the best for catching our members’ eyes!
4. Fill out the pattern description. We will ask you some basic questions around your pattern making it easier for Craftsy folk to find your pattern and know what your pattern is for. Make sure you have info about your pattern handy for this step.

For more information on how to sell a pattern through Craftsy, or to get started, visit Craftsy today!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Peanut Butter Easter Egg time!

For generations, my mother's family has been making chocolate covered eggs for Easter - peanut butter, coconut and divinity cream. It's a tradition that everyone loves, for obvious reasons! And as the family has grown, the recipe keeps getting shared and hopefully soon, everyone will know how glorious these eggs are!

I've only ever made the peanut butter version, because I don't like coconut or white cream. Selfish, I know. But why put the effort into making something that I don't like??

This recipe makes 6 eggs, each about 3/4 cup size.
3/4 Cup peanut butter (cannot use reduced fat peanut butter!)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt

2/3 cup evaporated milk
6 Cups powdered sugar

1 bag milk chocolate chips

Mix peanut butter, vanilla, and salt until creamy. Blend milk until smooth.
Gradually add powdered sugar, slowly mixing after each addition.
(We've found that using the dough hook in the stand mixer works best. Scrape the bowl often. It can seem like it takes forever to mix, but make sure not to mix it on a high speed)

Using about 3/4 cup of peanut butter mixture, roll into smooth egg shapes.
Place eggs on waxed paper on a cookie sheet and put into refrigerator to set up (a few hours, or about 1 hour in the freezer)

When eggs are firm, melt about 1/4-1/3 of the chocolate chips (I use a double boiler on the stove). Turn the eggs over and spread melted chocolate on the bottom (flat) side of the eggs, allowing it to run over the sides a bit.

Put the eggs back in the fridge overnight (still upside down, still on the waxed paper on the cookie sheet), long enough for the chocolate to harden.

When you're ready to cover the tops, melt the rest of the chocolate chips. When you pull the eggs out and flipe them over, you may have to reshape the tops to be more round. Spread the melted chocolate over the tops and sides, smoothing over the "seam" where you covered the bottoms.

Add sprinkles, if you like, back in the fridge to harden.

Slice or cut them up any way you'd like and ENJOY! They are ridiculously rich and sweet, so one egg can be enough for a family of 4 to enjoy for a while, unless someone has a major sweet tooth!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

God-tinted Lenses

It doesn't take much to change how we see what's in front of us.
If you look out a dirty window, everything looks smudged and dreary.
If you have on a pair of sunglasses, everything looks a little darker.
If you put on colored lenses, everything takes on that same tinted color.

What if we had the opportunity to see the world through God-tinted lenses, even just for a few minutes?
To see every person, every situation the way that He does? What would that do for our world view for the rest of our days? I believe that the opportunity to see people the way that their Creator sees them would change us forever. We wouldn't be defining people by our own observations and judgements, we would just love them unconditionally. Our hearts would be broken by the same things that break His heart. We would be overwhelmed and consumed by our love for humanity.

But more than that, I believe the way we see ourselves would be changed. We tend to put ourselves on a platform that is higher than we probably deserve. To see ourselves as God sees us would be incredibly humbling. He loves me with a love that I can't even begin to imagine, but I know that I break His heart daily as I make choices that hurt Him. Just a few moments of seeing myself in that light and I don't think I would ever be the same.

I pray that we would all strive to find a way to put on some God-tinted lenses see the people we interact with through His eyes, with love and see ourselves in the same way. I pray that our eyes would be open to the ways that we can honor our God and make Him proud with the thousands of choices that we make in a day.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A word about affiliate ads here...

I know that every page we visit these days is drowning in ads the whole perimeter of the page and I know it can get annoying, but please bear with me!

The ads that you see on my page are tried and true. I won't place an ad unless it's for a company that I've dealt with before.

Today, I'd like to give a specific shout out to Zulily!
Zulily is an incredible discount sale site that carries baby gear/clothes, women and kids clothes and shoes and home decor goodies. Their sales update daily, so it's become a little morning ritual of mine to be sure to spend some time browsing the new additions to Zulily. Sales open at 6am PST (9am here) and usually last 72 hours, some may be a bit shorter. There is limited inventory of each item, so if you find something you love, you've gotta snatch it up quick! After the sale closes, Zulily places a bulk order of the items, which ships after Zulily receives everything.

It all may sound a little odd and unconventional, but it's worth it for the great deals! Shipping can take a little longer than you're probably used to, so I'd take that into consideration if you're ordering for a birthday or holiday, where you'd need your item by a specific date. When the product is high quality brands for really great sale prices, it's worth the wait!

A recent order I place with Zulily hit a little snag. I had ordered a few items for myself, nothing major and nothing that I needed on a deadline. Within about 2 weeks, I got notice that one of my 3 items had shipped.I wasn't able to tell why the other two hadn't, since they were all ordered from the same merchant. Some more time passed, I received that one item but still no notice about the other pieces. After about a month, I decided to call Zulily to check on the status.

Something incredible happened when I called...a person answered the phone! A REAL, LIVE PERSON! No recording, no prompts to press 1, just a lovely, perky person. In less than 5 minutes, she updated me on the status of these other items, apologized profusely for the delay and gave me a credit on my account for my next purchase. I was blown away! Shortly after, I also received a follow up email.

It's not often that we see great customer service anymore. Especially from a company that also offers such great bargains. It always seems to be that you get what you pay for...find a great deal and you'll be sacrificing good customer service. But not with Zulily!

I strongly recommend you check them out next time you need any baby, kids, women or home products!

Follow the link to sign up now!

[Disclosure: Creating a Zulily account through this link will result in my getting credit for a referral]

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Living with the disrespect

Looking for a fool proof way to get your blood pressure up?

Go online and find a news story involving the police. This should be easy, there's something new every day. Read the article and note the negative spin and overall tone that the LEO involved was in the wrong. Then keep scrolling to the comments, sit back with some popcorn and get ready for the pressure to build.

We all know that our law enforcement community isn't the most well-liked in the world. People have one bad run-in and decide that all police are dirty and worthless. Sometimes these people haven't even had a bad experience, they're just assuming that nothing good comes from the police getting involved in anything.

Why is it so hard for our world to understand that most of those in law enforcement are good, selfless people, truly sacrificing themselves for an ungrateful community?

Every day, my husband puts on a ridiculous amount of gear and a target on his back and heads out into a world full of angry people who would love a chance to cause him harm for no reason.

A duty belt weighed down with handcuffs, pepper spray, an asp, a pistol and extra magazines.
A Kevlar vest that weighs more than you realize and doesn't allow for any air circulation (extra fun when it's summer in the South).
A badge that only weighs a few ounces, but carries more with it than anyone knows.
And he drives off in a car that is filled with even more gear. The trunk, the backseat, the passenger seat, even the little pockets in the door are all stuffed to the brim. Safety gear, protective gear, more guns and endless folders, files and notebooks of paperwork.

He spends his shift being polite with people who hate him for no reason other than the badge on his chest. His eight hour shift almost always turns into 10 or 12 hours. Even when he is home in bed, the phone has a tendancy to ring and call him back out. He works birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and most weekends. He does this for a paycheck that is much smaller than you'd probably guess and no thanks.

My husband has one simple goal every day: To come home.
It has nothing to do with speeding tickets or DUIs or anything else. He wants to help people, with the end game being to make it home. All of that gear, all of his training, all of those hours go toward making him better at his job and more likely to come home to me. If only the rest of the world understood that.

Unfortunately, the target on his back also means I have the same one. I'm so proud of my man and what he's accomplished for himself and our family on the few years that he's being in this line of work, but I can't talk about it. New people and strangers can't be told what he does for a living. I can't put a sticker on my vehicle. I can't wear shirts or jewelry that advertise my status as a police wife. I've never been more proud of anything, but I have to keep it to myself.

I get so jealous of military wives who can do all those things. They can beam with pride and tell random people in the grocery store, "My husband is in the [pick your branch]!!" They have car decals and shirts and Facebook statuses that shout with pride. Why can't I do that? What makes police service so evil and military service so honorable? How many of these hateful people realize that most law enforcement are either prior or current military members? How many people will shake a soldier's hand and thank him one day and the next day curse him online for being a police officer, without realizing that he is the same person?

The disrespect and hate that our law enforcement officers face every day can be exhausting and frustrating as a wife. And unfortunately, most days our only option is to sit quietly and bite our tongues and pray every day that the good guys make it home and that maybe one more person will learn to have some respect.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Don't pray when you feel like it...

This sounds backwards, I know. Bear with me.

If you don't know Corrie ten Boom's story, I encourage you to do some reading. The best source is her own book, The Hiding Place, but some online reading would give you a great understanding also. I read The Hiding Place during one of the hardest times in my life. I was throwing a rocking pity party for myself and doing some fabulous wallowing. Seriously, it was impressive. And while I was dealing with one of the toughest challenges I had faced yet in life, I needed some perspective and some hope. My aunt mailed me this book, along with a prayer that I would find what I needed within the pages. This is really a long story for another day, but by the end of this book, Corrie was my new hero. So this quote from her really struck me hard, especially since it relates to something I've been struggling with lately.

Lots of changes are coming up in my life. I'm pretty sure that nothing can make you feel as completely unprepared as trying to prepare for a baby. At this point in life, with all the emotions that go with it (special shout out to pregnancy hormones!), it's so easy to stress. And goodness, there is so much to justify stressing about! But late at night, when the whispers start creeping in and worry starts to suffocate, panic seems like the best option.

God has been trying to get my attention for some time, trying to show me that there is a better way to deal with the unknown and all the change that is looming ahead. And the best way is to draw closer to Him. He is my Savior, my lifeline, but so often, quality time trying to get close to Him is pushed to the bottom of the do to list. There's an assurance that comes with knowing that He'll be there anytime we call, even if it's been years. Unfortunately, that can lead us to become complacent. When I know that I'll always be welcomed back, it's easier to stray away.

So this week, I have new goals and a new commitment. I'm committing to rising early and starting my day with God. This is easier said than done most days. With a husband that is usually getting home around midnight or later and I'm having to work at 8am, most mornings, I take every bit of sleep I can get! My relationship with my God has to be a priority though. So I can spare 20 or 30 minutes of sleep to connect with Him and take a nap later if I need to. I'm learning how important it is to start my day with God, how much differently my day will go when I make that a priority.

I have a new Bible study plan (more on that later), a new binder (yes, I have a sickness), and a new perspective.

"Don't pray when you feel like it. Make an appointment with God and keep it. A [wo]man is powerful on his [her] knees."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Week 30/31...Time for Nursery Crafts!

Less than 10 weeks left...YIKES!! I am so not ready! Keep on cooking, sweet little boy!

His nursery is slow coming together. Hopefully this week I can crack down and get stuff sorted out/packed up/moved to the basement. That room has been a guest room/office for a year and a half, which really translates to a dumping ground for everything that doesn't have a home otherwise. I'm wishfully thinking that one solid evening of work and I can get everything cleaned out.

But until the current furniture and "stuff" comes out and the crib and baby gear gets moved in, carpet scrubbed and so on...I can keep myself busy making some cute decorations! Now that we have a name picked out, I wanted to make something cute to hang on the wall with his name. I looked into buying those wooden letters you can get anywhere and painting them, but they run between $3 and $6, depending on where you go and what style you choose. Add in the cost of paint and I'd be over $20. Not going to break the bank, but I knew I could do it cheaper.

My cheaper DIY solution involved only cardboard, a small bit of fabric and my hot glue gun!

First, I printed off the letters I needed from a basic Word document in a cute, but simple font. Each letter took up almost one whole page. Printing off the letters and cutting them out took less than 10 minutes.

I took a scrap cardboard box and traced the letters onto the cardboard. I made sure it was heavy cardboard, just to give the letters more bulk. A layer of foam or some kind of padding would work glued onto the cardboard too. Cutting them out was the worst part! I didn't think to do it with a razor or Exact-o knife, which would have been much easier. I used scissors, which is insanely difficult and my hand is still cramped this morning!
So my advice to anyone wanting to try this is to find a more effecient way of cutting out your letters!

Then I picked out the fabric that coordinated with the other nursery gear I've bought/registered for. Months ago, I placed a huge fabric order online, so I have a bunch that all matches. These barely used any fabric though, so I can't count that as an expense. I used the cardboard cut outs to trace onto the fabric, leaving extra space the whole way around. The mistake I made here was not leaving enough fabric. I'd say to leave at least an inch, possibly more. Using the hot glue is downright painful if you don't have enough fabric to work with! (Take my word for it.)

All that was left was to glue down the fabric onto the cardboard letters! This was pretty simple, although like I mentioned before, I wish I had left more fabric to work with! My poor fingertips are quite burnt today! Going around the curves in the letters got tricky at some points, so I think I'd choose a simpler font if/when I attempt this again. But as long as you keep it pulled tight as you glue down, it's quick and easy!

Start to finish, the whole thing took about 2 hours. Not bad at all and I'm proud of how they turned out! Cramped hand and burnt fingers were worth it!

Oh, right, by the way, baby boy's name is Levi! =)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Today, I choose joy!

I was slapped upside the head with a huge realization last night...

Being joyful is a choice.

There is so much in life that is sad or just hard to handle. There's no way around it. Jesus himself told us that we'd have trouble in this life (John 16:33). But every minute of every day, we have the option to choose joy. In the middle of all the ugly, messy junk that finds it's way into my life, I can choose joy.

Now, I'll admit, I'm not facing any truly horrible trials in this season of my life. But there is so much in the weeks and months ahead that can't be controlled. If I'm being honest, I let the idea of not having control overwhelm me and drag me down. I've wasted so much precious time worrying and wondering what's ahead when there's truly no way of knowing. What's the point? What's the end game? No matter how much effort I put into worrying, I can't change the fact that some things just can't be controlled.

So last night, I decided to choose choose find hope.

There is so bringing me joy! My Jesus, my husband, our life together, the new, beautiful life growing inside me right now...I could go on forever.

There is not room in my life for both worry and faith. Worry says that I don't believe that my God can handle things. And that couldn't be more untrue. So I choose to have faith and that drives out any worry I might have.

And with joy and faith ruling in my life, I can't help but find hope!

Today, I choose joy. And I invite you to do the same. It's a beautiful, peaceful way to live.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Week 29! (Or 30?)

As of today, we're officially into week 29 of this pregnancy! Although we've gotten some conflicting due dates, so it may actually be the beginning of week 30...who knows. Either way, it's going by way too fast!

Baby boy is so active all the time these days! And I absolutely love that feeling. This weekend, he had hiccups for the first time! Cutest thing EVER. (Speaking of...hiccups as I'm writing this!) I'm so loving having him in there and so not ready to give that up yet. At least being pregnant, I have some feeling of being in control...something I'm told goes completely out the window after baby is born!

I'm still feeling comfortable, for the most part, which makes it much easier to just enjoy this time! My back has seen better days, but I know that I've let my posture go down the drain with this extra weight in front. Days that I'm really focused on keeping straight, it's not nearly as sore. Sleeping through the night is a challenge, as I'm constantly rolling from one side to the other and getting up at least once to use the bathroom. The only other complaint I have is the heartburn! I never had heartburn once in my life until a few months ago! Now it's constant and doesn't seem to have anything to do with what I eat or don't eat or if I'm upright or laying just burns more than it doesn't! I'm so hoping this means that our sweet boy is growing lots and lots of curly hair!

Pregnancy certainly is a roller coaster! There's so much I love about it and at this point, I'm hoping I really do have a whole 10 weeks (or maybe more!) left to go and I want to do it again as soon as possible! That may change towards the end, but I'm loving it more than I'm not loving the miserable stuff. I've been so fortunate to be missing the really miserable symptoms. I'm so excited to meet him and hold him and see his daddy with him, but this special time, just us, is so beautiful!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies...YUM!

As with most males, my husband understands love best when it's offered through food. And he has a royal sweet tooth!

A few years ago, I came across this recipe for Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies in a Taste of Home book that I've used and abused. Typically, he's not a peanut butter fan, but he seemed eager for me to bake these, so I went for it. And the response was completely worth it! Since then, they've become a go-to special treat. And this week has been a crazy week in our house. Lots of overtime, lots of stuff going on, lots of time not getting spent together. Just one of those weeks in a law enforcement family. So I made these cookies, just as a little "I love you" for him. Totally worth always is =)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Household Binder Adventure!

I don't know if you can call it nesting, since it's not necessarily centered around cleaning, but I've got a serious desire to get some household "stuff" in order ASAP!

We've been thinking for a while that our renter's insurance probably needs updated to match the current value of our possessions. That got me thinking about how if something was to happen to me and I was unable to handle our banking and bills for whatever reason, how would my husband know all of the account numbers and passwords to everything?

(Side note: My husband is not an idiot. Early on in our marriage, the banking and bills just became my job because I worked at the credit union where we bank and the budgeting and bills is fun to me and a headache for him.)

So now I've decided to put together a household binder. Get all of our important info together, just in case. Past of my inspiration came from Household Management 101 ( but part of it is my own crazy head. I'm still working on exactly what I want/need to include, but here's what I have so far:

- Household Inventory: Basically a list of everything we own (sounds daunting, I know), with a description, receipt (if we have it) and a photo. This would be in case of our house being robbed or catching fire. Just think about it...if your house burned to the ground tomorrow, would you actually know what to claim with your insurance? I don't think we would! And having photos, especially of your big ticket items, will help the insurance process go much smoother. Obviously, you need to think about where you're storing this list also. I'll be putting a paper copy in my binder, but we'll need another copy stored elsewhere. Whether this is a digital copy on a cloud drive or a copy (paper, disk, flash drive, carved in stone) stored at a friend's home or in a safe deposit box at a bank, it just needs to be somewhere else. Again, imagine your house burning to the ground. The most wonderful binder in the world doesn't help if it's in a pile of ash.

- Banking/Bills info: A list of all of our bills, account numbers, customer service numbers, day of the month that they're due, online log in info, etc. Not only would this be handy just to have all compiled in one place, but especially in case of something happening to me, hubby would have an easy, go to source.

- Personal info: Social Security number, blood type, etc for both of us, soon to add baby on to. Again, just to have that all together, just in case.

This is all I have so far...I'm sure I'll be coming up with more to add as I get started! Time to go get myself a snazzy binder! (That may be the most exciting part to me.)

Monday, March 10, 2014

WHEW! It's been a while!

I've taken a little hiatus from writing because things have been happening like CRAZY on the home front!

Tomorrow, I will be 28 or 29 weeks pregnant (depending on who you ask) with our first little one! I have no idea where the last seven months have gone! And I'm certainly not ready for the next couple of months to come to an end either.

My whole life, more than anything else, I wanted to be a wife and a mom. I've got almost 5 years under my belt as a wife and it's honestly been better than I could have imagined! So I thought the process of becoming a mom would be just as blissful...well, not entirely.

While I'm grateful that I've missed out on the ugliest physical pregnancy side effects (yay for no morning sickness!), there's been a whole mess of emotional disasters that I could have done without. The first few months were lots of worry about my baby. The next few months were spent being terrified of becoming a parent and having to create an entire who is kind and hardworking and loving and all the other things that we want our children to become. That's a huge task! One time, I literally woke up in the middle of the night in a panic because I didn't know how to be the mother of a 20 year old. (Lucky for me, you get 20 years of on-the-job experience before that point!)

Finally, somewhere in Month 6, I found my peace. We decided to find out the gender (BOY!!), the kicks became something that we could really feel and I found myself moving from a constant state of panic to enjoying being pregnant and looking forward to bringing up this incredible little man! Now here we are, just a little more than 10 weeks from the big day and they only thing bringing me down is the idea of not being pregnant anymore! I love having him in here, all cozy and squirmy. I'm not quite ready to give that up yet. (Though you may want to check back in about 8 weeks and see where I stand.)

So now, I'm just enjoying my days of all these sweet kicks and rolls, working hard to finish the blanket I've been knitting since before I was pregnant and trying to get all the other pre-baby "stuff" together. We're getting down to crunch time!